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Junior High Students Participate In City's Youth Summit

11YouthSummitoneMore than 350 students, from six Hart District junior high schools and Castaic Middle School, participated in the annual Youth Summit last month to develop leadership skills, encourage positive contributions to their school and the community and build self-esteem.

The theme this year was "Respecting Ourselves and Respecting Each Other." The City of Santa Clarita hosts this event as part of their Youth and Family program, in partnership with the Hart District. The half-day event was held at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex and included interactive activities and informative presentations about teen issues.

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City of Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Ender welcomed the students, and a keynote address was given by Tempered Steel Veteran LyVell Gipson. Tempered Steel speakers are veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan Wars since 2001. The speaker tells of their injuries and how they persevere in their new lives. Issues addressed include bullying, mistreatment, and being shunned and stared at by others.

"Each year, we try to find a way to help students expand their definition of respect and their understanding of diversity,” Greg Lee, Director of Human Resources and Equity Services said. “The message presented by Mr. Gipson to our young people was very profound and the students realized the importance of appreciating everyone's life story."

Students from West Ranch and Valencia High Schools facilitated break out groups.